Q&A with Spyker MF1s Tiago Monteiro 17 Oct 2006
Theres just one race to go in 2006, and thus one more chance for Spyker MF1 to log some points. Tiago Monteiro is hoping that, given favourable circumstances, the team can end the season on a high. The Portuguese driver really enjoys Brazil, and thanks to a common language, feels at home there. Speaking to the teams press office, Monteiro talks about this weekends Grand Prix, about his chances of retaining his seat for 07, and firstly about the previous round at Suzuka
Q: Firstly, how did the Japanese Grand Prix go for you?
Tiago Monteiro: All in all it wasnt too bad, given the limits of what we can do. We had a very good first stint, considering we were aiming for one stop, so we were very heavy. However I could follow the guys in front. I overtook Sato and then I was following the Toro Rossos and Red Bulls, and Christijan (Albers) was in the middle of them as well. Considering that I had something like 10 laps more of fuel in the car, all I needed to do was be able to follow them, so I was quite happy. But then at my stop, which was quite long with a rear wheel problem, after reviewing the strategy the team decided to do two stops. They put a little bit of fuel in, and new tyres, and I went out to do some quick laps. However I had huge graining and a big, big struggle with the tyres, so it was a really bad middle stint; Sato passed me again and I lost a lot of time to Scott Speed.
Q: Did things improve after that?
TM: The last stint was like the first one, it was quite good, but I lost too much time in the middle one. So it wasnt what we wanted, but it was good to be fighting with people like Coulthard, Barrichello, Sato and Speed. That shows that we are improving, and that thats whats important to us.
Q: How much did you enjoy Suzuka?
TM: Its an amazing track. Its not easy to overtake, and its a very tough track for the tyres. But what a pleasure to drive there! Its so quick, so tough, and so technical. I love it.
Q: Theres just one race left in Brazil. Any thoughts?
TM: Yes, its the last one. Its amazing how quickly it goes, and were almost at the end of the season. Its also a nice track, with a great crowd and a great atmosphere. So Im looking forward to it. Our goal is still to try and get a point. Its going to be difficult, but were here to fight until the last minute of the last lap. So well see.
Q: How would you summarise the 2006 season, bearing in mind you havent scored points like last year?
TM: We didnt have so many opportunities this time, so we dont have any points yet, but weve been a lot more competitive. Its a bit of a mixed feeling. It was good to be closer in qualifying, being able to go into the second group sometimes, fighting for positions on track with other drivers, which didnt happen last year much. So that was very good and very motivating. On the other side, theres been a lot of reliability from the other teams, not many people going off, not many people stopping on the track, and therefore not many chances to score points for us!
Q: Have you seen the team making good progress?
TM: Yes. Its a totally different year and a totally different car, balance-wise especially. Thats really where we made a huge gain, in terms of balance and downforce. We have a lot of things to work on obviously, but it was a different car, a different world. Its looking good for next year - a new engine, Mike Gascoyne coming in with his shopping list, things are going to be very different.
Q: Are you excited by the connection with Spyker?
TM: Yes, because its a constructor, even if its a small one. For them its the perfect sport to be in, so thats how theyre going to sell more cars. Theyre going to make their brand known. So theyre so motivated, and thats what we need. Lotus and Ferrari did that at the beginning, and thats what should get us up front.
Q: You dont know if you are staying in 2007, and there seem to be a lot of drivers looking for a ride. Whats the latest news?
TM: In my head Im staying here! Well find out soon enough. Obviously were working on a totally different basis now. The team knows what Im worth, they know what I can do, and like Christijan I would become a paid driver and not a paying driver. We are negotiating now. Weve put Spyker in contact with some sponsors, and its up to them to finalise those deals. For me its a different kind of negotiation now. There are always drivers on the market of course, theres always competition, but Spyker have told me that they have faith in me, and what they want to do. Now its a matter of the details, I guess!